You can have first-rate products and services, but if you can’t establish the need, communicate the benefits and differentiate yourself from the competition in ways that make people want to do business with you, you’ll forever be selling up hill.
As Robert Krumroy, Identity Branding, Inc. says: “Branding is about the customer–who has never met you–being able to answer the question: ‘Why you?'”
Your “Value Proposition”
Your brand can be based in large part on your “value proposition,” which is what differentiates you from your direct and indirect competition–and, if it’s good enough, will draw people to you.
Your value proposition should be a clear, concise statement of why your business is unique and a better choice. Your market positioning, competitive analyses and SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) gives you everything you’ll need to develop a value proposition based on your strengths, your competition, what your “ideal” customer wants from you, and how this benefits people in your markets.
This message must be delivered to your markets consistently and repeated frequently. If prospects understand what they need, trust you and connect emotionally with your message, sales resistance melts before your eyes. Yes, it’s that powerful!
My Value Proposition:
First Impressions, Last
Short-term, smart professional branding gives you the immediate recognition, market access and momentum you need to attract customers and build sales; long-term, it can help increase market share, foster customer loyalty, sustain your client-building efforts–and practically guarantee clients will eagerly refer you to others (“Hey, look what I’m part of! You should be too!”).
Branding should be part of your annual marketing/advertising expense budget. The Small-Business Administration advises entrepreneurs to use 5% of gross sales on advertising, but that varies depending on sales volume and location.
Everyone Has a Brand
“Everyone has a brand, like it or not,” adds John Melchinger, The Marketing Coach(TM). “You have one. It may not be the one you want and you may not be nurturing it, but it’s yours nevertheless. Not to shape your brand rigorously and nurture it is to leave it to your public to decide. That is the much less effective alternative.”
Building Your Brand
The purpose of this exercise is to create a short message people will remember whenever they think about you. When part of a coordinated marketing plan, your professional identity brand will drive customers to your business. You will also need to give some thought to which medium to use.
Example: This is Joe Financial Advisor’s brand identity. It’s deceptively simple, yet sends a compelling message to his target market, Tool & Die Makers:
Insurance Solutions – Precision Business & Personal Planning
Why are we a Tool & Die Maker’s insurance solution?
Because we care and take the time to understand your unique needs.
Write your own message here:
Need help building your brand? Try this…
o Give stamped, self-addressed envelopes to 25 personal and business acquaintances.
o Ask them to write down how they’d describe you to someone who doesn’t know you or what you do. Let them know you’re looking for objectivity, not what they think you want to hear.
o Don’t pressure them; they don’t even have to tell you who they are their replies (it would be better if you didn’t know).
Compare the results of this survey with your own view of who you are and what you do based on your value proposition.
o Brainstorm: begin jotting down key words that could become part of your businesses brand name and slogan.
o Compare against your SWOT analysis.
o Then stop: leave these alone for a week, then come back and repeat this exercise until you’re satisfied with the results.
Brainstorm ideas for communicating your brand. Write them down, confer with others, research…
o Which media will be the most effective?
o Which media will be the most efficient?
o Which media will integrate well with each other?
o Which media do you have the resources to implement and sustain now?
o How frequently should you communicate with your audience?
o What combination of effectiveness, efficiency and simplicity will best reach your audience with available resources?
When you’re ready, summarize your conclusions in your Marketing Plan (you do have a marketing plan, don’t you?).
But can you do all this yourself? Should you?
Of course, hiring a full-time marketing professional for your small business may not be feasible. That’s why outsourcing might be your best bet
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